Current Affairs
University programme studies ways to reduce risks for airplanes

Among the research projects being carried out at the University of Malta, the Institute of Aerospatial Technologies is working on a programme to reduce the risks for airplanes.

The programme is intended to swiftly and efficiently analyse flight data to identify shortcomings and flaws so that they can be addressed.

The research, which is being carried out in collaboration with the pilots training company, QuAero, has the aim of making the aviation industry safer.

The Artifical Intelligence technology known as ‘Machine Learning’ is being used to identify the risks in aviation as airplanes are expected to double within the next 20 years.

The project coordinator, Dr Robert Camilleri explained that the sensors on board each plane record around 16 pieces of information every second. He added that, by law, following every flight, the airline is required to look at this data to see whether the airplane or the pilot were operating within the safety parametres.

“Normally there is so much data to be analysed using a computer, that through the use of machine learning and pattern recognition, one can analyse large fleets of airplanes and their journeys within a few minutes.”

He pointed out that with the programme being developed, they carry out exercises to sift through the data of 66 planes as they land at the airport. The data of five of them showed that there were journeys where luckily nothing went wrong because at one point the plane had varied from the acceptable security limits.  The data also showed why this shortcoming had occurred.   Dr Camilleri said that following this research, the airline can take measures to improve the efficiency of their operation and increase security.

The Director of the Institute of Aerospatical Technologies at the University of Malta, Prof David Zammit Mangion said that they are halfway through the research.

“After it is completed we will be able to approach companies to tell them, ‘look these are the software algorithims we have developed which really work, why don’t you take them and develop them into your own products’? That is the line we usually take and that is what we will do with this project.”

The project is spread over three years and is financed by the Malta Council of Science and Technology at an investment of €200,000.